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backtoyou_idol.jpgWith the art form of the (funny) sitcom becoming more and more of an endangered species on television these days, the FOX network is putting its hopes for sitcom success on two of the most beloved stars in television sitcom history–Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton. The actors play two variations of their previous TV personas on “Back To You,” a workplace sitcom that is depending on the chemistry of the two successful actors for its success.
In tonight’s debut, the pairing definitely shows some promise. But if viewers are expecting more than predictable storylines and stock supporting characters, they’re going to be disappointed.


In “Back To You,” Kelsey Grammer plays–surprise, surprise–an uptight, egotistical, verbose news anchor obnoxiously named Chuck Darling, while Patricia Heaton plays a rather shrill, bossy co-anchor named Kelly, who once had a brief fling with Darling years ago. Darling moved on to bigger and better news stations until an on-air disaster sends him back to Pittsburgh, where he isn’t exactly given a warm welcome back.
There’s a nice little twist to the re-pairing of the co-anchors that comes in the final few minutes of the pilot, and the producers have asked critics to not give it away. But, I think if you have watched half as much TV as I have, you’ll figure it out early on in tonight’s episode.
Heaton and Grammer still know how to make even average material funny, and there are some great supporting players like Fred Willard, who are equally humorous. But the storylines still just add up to nothing special. Great sitcoms like “Cheers” or “Everybody Loves Raymond” are memorable because they were either heavily satircal and smart, or they were so sharply honest you couldn’t help but laugh at the universal truth of their stories.
“Back To You” hasn’t discovered either of these angles–yet. But with such a strong cast and with a setting like a newsroom that is ripe for satire–there is every reason to be optimistic that this show will hit its stride and become a not only a ratings hit, but critical one as well.

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